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2021 Toyota Hilux vs 2021 Isuzu D-Max on-paper comparison

By Tom Fraser, 18 Jun 2020 Car Comparisons

Toyota HiLux vs Isuzu D-MAX

The arrival of the next generation of utes is tantalisingly close, so what have we got to look forward to?

Before too long Australia will be hit with a brace of new utility vehicles that will usher in a new era of design, features and abilities for the most popular class of cars in Australia. 

Two of the most anticipated are the new Toyota HiLux, as well as the updated Isuzu D-Max.

Toyota Hilux 2020 grille

Read next: Updated Toyota Hilux gets a big power boost

One is a sales star, coming in at number one on the Australian new car sales chart month after month, while the other is a stalwart of the ute market that earned a favourable reputation for its reliability and strong powerplant.

But both have gone a number of years without significant update, leaving the ute buyers of Australia frothing at the thought of a new generation.

Combine the fact that the government has just extended it instant asset write off plan until the end of the year and we reckon these two heavyweights will be hot property when they arrive in the second half of the year. 

This is the new 2020 Isuzu D-Max

Read next: This is the new 2020 Isuzu D-Max

So what are we waiting for? Let’s take a look at how these two utes stack up ahead of their arrival Down Under. 


The 2021 Isuzu D-Max will retain a 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine, though it’ll come with a few revisions. Power and torque is now up by 10kW and 20Nm respectively, totalling 140kW/450Nm, while the unit will reportedly also be more fuel-efficient and quieter.

That’s good news for D-Max fans, as the tried and true powerplant - sourced from the company's light truck division - was a highlight of the previous generation.

Read next: 10 things you need to know about the new D-Max

Meanwhile, the HiLux receives a similar arrangement in that the 2021 model will use the same 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine, though numbers are now bumped to 150kW/500Nm which gives it a decent edge over the D-Max.

Though nothing has been said on the subject as yet, the updates will also likely include a permanent fix for the troublesome diesel particulate filter issues that have plagued the HiLux, which have resulted in a class action against Toyota in Australian courts.

10 things you need to know about the new D-Max

Platform technology

New for D-Max is an electromagnetic rear differential lock to make things that little bit easier off-road, while Isuzu has also made some changes to shorten the time spent switching between 2WD and 4WD modes.

Both 4x4 and 4x2 versions will continue to be offered, as will the choice of manual or automatic transmissions. Wading depth is up 200 millimetres to an 800mm total and hill descent control and hill start assist will be added for those actually keen to turn away from the bitumen.

Read next: 2020 Isuzu D-Max vs 2020 Ford Ranger on paper

Suspension changes are on the way for HiLux, with updates coming for shock absorbers, new bushings and an improved leaf spring suspension set up. These updates are said to improve the HiLux’s low-speed and unladen ride quality.

Toyota will add an additional traction control function to 4x4 HiLux models equipped with downhill-assist control, which reroutes torque in 2WD mode to provide more grip.


2020 Toyota Hilux rear

We’ll have to wait a little bit longer for confirmed D-Max towing figures but Toyota has said the automatic HiLux will now be able to tow with the best of them at 3500kg, a lift of 400kg over the outgoing model.

See next: Getting racy with the Isuzu D-Max


Coming off a very old base, the improvements for the 2021 D-Max interior are promising. The whole design now presents much more car-like, and a bump in specification will see the D-Max’s interior thrust into the current decade.

It’ll get a 9.0-inch touchscreen that’ll run both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the first time, and a smaller digital read-out finds itself nestled within the instrument cluster to provide key vehicle information.

Dual-zone climate control, rear air vents, leather-appointed seats and keyless entry are some other hallmarks of the updated specification.

2020 Isuzu D-Max Centre Console

Read next: Fernando Alonso gets first thrash of the 2021 Toyota HiLux

Less is changed with the Hilux, but new additions include an 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and safety inclusions such as active cruise control, lane keep assist and pedestrian detection return. 

2020 Toyota Hilux interior

It’s hard to tell which will be a nicer mobile office without spending some quality time inside but the D-Max’s interior improvement is promising.


Much like its substantial interior improvement, plenty has been changed on the exterior of the new D-Max. It now receives LED headlights and taillights, a stylised grille design that’s incorporated into a heavily-revised fascia and some black accenting as well. 

There’s not a whole lot different with the 2021 Hilux’s looks, but if it ain’t broke… It does get a slightly larger grille, new headlights and taillights as well as some new wheels, bringing it closer to the looks of the Tacoma ute of the United States.

While this is just a quick look at what we’re expecting from just two of the utes to get refreshed this year, we won’t have to wait too long to put both of them together in real life for a look in later this year.